Planet Asia helped jump-start the West Coast independent hip-hop movement, releasing a slew of popular 12-inch singles on upstarts like Stones Throw and ABB Records in the late 90s that established him as one of the leaders of a crop of talent that included the likes of Dilated Peoples, Madlib, Murs, and Jurassic 5. Now a 15-year veteran, the Cali-based MC (born in Fresno, he's spent most of his career living in Los Angeles and San Francisco) shows no signs of slowing down.
The first decade of the new millennium saw Asia briefly sign with major label Interscope, go independent again for his debut album The Grand Opening, release full-length collaborative projects with both Evidence of Dilated Peoples (The Medicine) and DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill (Pain Language), form his own label (Gold Chain Music), and work with everyone from Linkin Park to Bun B to Ghostface Killah. Now, Planet Asia is back with his first retail album in four years, the star-studded Black Belt Theatre, which hits stores everywhere via Gold Chain/Wandering Worx/Greenstreets on February 28th, 2012.
Named after a 1980s Saturday-afternoon TV show and inspired by Planet Asia's favorite films, Black Belt Theatre combines the violent precision of classic kung-fu flicks with the calculated cool of classic blaxploitation movies. "I wanted to make the album like a movie, something you would see in a theater," says Asia. "That's why it has so many features. All the guests feel like different characters in the movie." These guests include veterans like Raekwon, Talib Kweli, Paul Wall, Ras Kass, Camp Lo, and Strong Arm Steady, as well as newcomers like Fashawn, Willie The Kid, Torae, and Nio Tha Gift. "They're basically just all people I thought were dope," says Asia. "Both young cats I'm feeling and veterans I've always admired."
Unlike on his albums with Evidence and DJ Muggs, Asia also got to determine the sonic direction on Black Belt Theatre, resulting in a soul-heavy, blaxploitation-influenced sound. "It was fun because I got to reach out to guys like Oh No and Khrysis for beats, find the best tracks and put together a masterpiece," explains Asia. "It's some esoteric gangster shit…a full plate for the listener."
Tracklisting and credits for Planet Asia’s “Black Belt Theatre”:
1.) “Lost And Found” (produced by Khrysis) 2.) “Grown Folks Talkin’” f/ Talib Kweli (produced by Dirtydiggs) 3.) “Tell The World” (produced by Dirtydiggs) 4.) “All Mine” f/ Paul Wall (produced by Twiz The Beat Pro) 5.) “No Apologies” f/ Raekwon (produced by Oh No) 6.) “F*ck Rapers” f/ Fashawn & Willie The Kid (produced by Dirtydiggs) 7.) “Diamond Life” f/ Camp Lo (produced by Dirtydiggs) 8.) “Furniture” (produced by Dirtydiggs) 9.) “Mach One (produced by Dirtydiggs) 10.) “Daggers And Darts” f/ Rogue Venom & Tristate (produced by Dirtydiggs) 11.) “Bruce Lee” f/ Chace Infinite & Rasco (produced by Soulprofessa) 12.) “Golden State” (produced by Dirtydiggs) 13.) “Coons” f/ Killer Ben (produced by Dirtydiggs) 14.) “The Line Of Fire” f/ Krondon, Phil Da Agony & Picaso (produced by Brisk Oner) 15.) “Big Fish” (produced by Twiz The Beat Pro) 16.) “External Motives” f/ The Jacka & Mitchy Slick (produced by Twiz The Beat Pro) 17.) “Classical” f/ Ras Kass, Torae & Jasiri X (produced by Religion) 18.) “Stay Ready” f/ Mistah Fab, Dengee & Mo The Gift (produced by Oh No) 19.) “Whirlwind Patterns” (produced by Religion) 20.) “Dogon Outro” (produced by Dirtydiggs)
MP3: Swazy Styles f/ Rick Ross - "You Already Know"
Courtesy Future Star Music.
Miami Rap juggernaut Swazy Styles has officially released his urban smash hit titled "YOU ALREADY KNOW" featuring hip hop heavyweight Rick Ross aka Ricky Rozay. This record also feat the melodic tunes of Miami's own K-Parn and super producer CP Hollywood. Swazy Styles, who is setting the city of Miami and the rest of the southern hemisphere on fire with his blazing and electrifying club hits and his major feature by the boss himself.
Uncommon Records is proud to drop this single on you from Pruven's upcoming full length, Stamina of Thought. The track is called Suspect Terrain & is Produced by J. Bello. Suspect Terrain will be part of Pruven's 13 track LP, available world wide from Uncommon Records on 2/21/12. "I Hate Hearing Half-Assed Music!" - Pruven
Pep Love Announces New Album Rigmarole For March 6 Release
Courtesy Audible Treats.
(January 2012 – Brooklyn, NY) Pep Love is excited to announce the release of his new album, Rigmarole. Despite having appeared on other artists' albums and touring heavily, this marks his first official solo album in 11 years. Rigmarole will be released March 6th via Hieroglyphics Imperium.
Founding Hieroglyphics group member Pep Love last released a solo project in 2001, and while that album, Ascension, is now considered one of the finest releases to come from the Hiero crew, Pep's new album Rigmarole is all about growth. "Most of Rigmarole was recorded during a time in my life when the music I was making was one of the few things that was actually working," explains Pep. "It was therapy; it made me feel better. So there was a lot of learning, personal growth, and healing that continues to this very day. I was focused on where I was headed as a human being more than as a rapper or recording artist. But in the process, I reinvented myself as an artist and discovered my love for what I do."
The album title, Rigmarole, was similarly inspired by Pep's quest to evolve as a person. "The word 'rigmarole,'" he notes, "means the necessary steps or process that one must go through to achieve a certain end. With my Rigmarole, then, it speaks to the process that I went through and go through as an individual and an artist – and also to the greater process of cultural evolution that hip-hop and society is experiencing."
Tracks like the Unjust produced "Reflections" reflect this concept of therapy and self-awareness, as Pep describes the song as "one of those old clock watches that a hypnotist would use to take you to a state of trance." Then there's "Runaway Slave," on which Pep details the process of bettering himself as both an individual and artist through the use of clever and creative metaphors.
And with these songs, and the album as a whole, Pep wants listeners to view the work as a new representation who he is as both a man and artist, rather than compare and contrast it against his previous work. "Rigmarole isn't a progression from my last album; if anything, it's a deviation," explains Pep. "This album is less about what I'm saying and more about what I went through to get it done. It wasn't created with the intention of living up to anything else."